The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Racism: lesson never learned

Dialogue sparked between CSUN students at the Jena Six performance Wednesday afternoon.

The event, sponsored by the University Student Union and hosted by the Black Student Union (BSU) at the Grand Salon, featured a one-man auto ethnographic performance depicted issues of racism, lynching, and oppression from the past and present events.

Racism still happens today whether it gets noticed or not and ‘although this particular event took place in Jena and it was brought to the light there, there’s so many situations just like this one that don’t make it into the light, that happens here. That happens all over our country and it’s not always African Americans that are the victims of this injustice,’ said Eboni Blanche, the BSU president.

Author, performer and California State University, Long Beach graduate, Kasif Powell concentrated on the injustices of the Jena Six in his performance as well as the struggle to define black male identity.

Powell actively involved the audience in all aspects, from asking for volunteers to handing out props. Powell told the audience if they felt uncomfortable they should leave, ‘If you’re not willing to be a little uncomfortable about history you’re probably not willing to change it either,’ said Powell.

He stressed by showing the history of racism and oppression, from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the lynching of African Americans. Today racism is just as overt, but with differences and help of media.’ The black spectacles of famous entertainers and celebrities are an example from the portrayals of African Americans in movies and TV shows as well as the injustices of six black boys in Jena, La.

In Sept. 2006, Jena High School held an assembly where one black student asked the principle if he could sit under a tree that was considered to be whites only. The principle told the student he could sit wherever he liked and the next day black students sat under that tree.

The following day three nooses were hung on that whites only tree. These series of events ignited the racial tension in Jena, Louisiana. ‘In Dec. 2006 during lunch time six boys jumped [a white student] who called them the wrong word and they were charged with attempted murder and the court said that their tennis shoes were deadly weapons,’ said Powell.

Progress has not happened at least not to the degree people believe it has. Racism and segregation is experienced and seen on campus. ‘We have spots around campus where only certain ethnicities hang out here. If you are of a certain race you’re not going to be sitting over in Sierra Hall, or you’re not going to go sit in front of Manzanita.’ Because it’s segregated, it’s for a certain group of students,’ said Blanche.

Students created dialogue at the end of the performance with the idea of spending too much time dwelling opposed to focusing on the future. ‘I understand we shouldn’t dwell on the past but if you don’t learn what happened in the past and really try to understand it and make sure it doesn’t leave your mind you wont have a chance to make sure it never happens again. How can you not dwell on something that happened in the past that’s actually happening today?’ asked James Darby IV, political science major.

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